When audiences saw The Terminator in movie theaters in 1984, they may have had an idea that they were witnessing something significant. Thanks to its chilling narrative and memorable action sequences, The Terminator made superstars of director James Cameron, and actors Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Those 1984 audiences may not have expected that the Terminator franchise would receive its sixth installment some 35 years later.
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The 2019 movie Terminator: Dark Fate even brought back Schwarzenegger’s ass-kicking cyborg and Hamilton’s iconic heroine Sarah Connor, with the intention of launching a new trilogy. Those plans appear to have been, well, terminated, with Dark Fate star Mackenzie Davis quashing anticipation for a seventh Terminator movie in a June interview with NME. In a straight-talking fashion that T-800 would appreciate, Davis declared that “to think that there’d be a demand for a seventh film is quite insane”.
Davis cited the poor box office performance of Dark Fate and audiences’ desire to see new stories as two reasons why we should say “hasta la vista, baby” to the Terminator franchise. Critical responses were more favorable, as demonstrated by a decent 70% rating aggregated from reviews featured at Rotten Tomatoes. While Dark Fate did a better job than other 21st-century Terminator sequels at tapping into what made the first film so successful, the bar had been set impossibly high by 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
One of the most successful sequels
While The Terminator‘s daring action took viewers’ breath away, Cameron sought to completely blow audiences away with the bigger and better Terminator 2. With Terminator 2, Cameron established his reputation as a director who obtained and then justified record-breaking budgets. Den of Geek counts four occasions that Cameron has made the most expensive film ever, with Terminator 2 being the first of these.
A budget of just over $100 million enabled Cameron to deliver pioneering visuals, plus it secured the involvement of Schwarzenegger with a salary of $15 million. Terminator 2 was the film to see in 1991, proven by its box office receipts of over $500 million and its achievement as the first film to earn more than $300 million internationally. Audiences and critics alike loved Terminator 2, with its stunning action scenes given extra resonance by its nuanced characters.
Terminator 2‘s incredible legacy
The movie shines in its own right, coming in eighth in the American Film Institute’s list of the all-time top ten sci-fi releases. By building on the themes and style of The Terminator, and by providing even more quotable dialogue, Terminator 2 arguably surpassed its predecessor and became the franchise’s definitive installment. This is why Universal Studios Florida chose the sequel as the focus for its $60 million attraction, with T2-3D: Battle Across Time combining a 3D film with live performers in an immersive experience.
Universal Studios have since replaced the attraction with The Bourne Stuntacular, but T2-3D garnered positive reviews in its 21-year stay. The Terminator 2 slot is one tribute to the film that is still present at some online casinos. Microgaming’s 243-payline slot pays homage to the movie’s aesthetic by using its central cast as symbols on the reel, with its stronger set of characters making Terminator 2 better thematic inspiration than The Terminator.
Marvel Comics is another huge name in the entertainment industry that threw its weight behind the Terminatorfranchise following the success of Judgment Day. A three-issue series written by Gregory Wight arrived in 1991 to capitalize on the mass appeal of Terminator 2, with these books available from suppliers hosted by Amazon. Tributes in video games have further helped to solidify Terminator 2‘s legacy, with IMDb’s comprehensive list of references revealing how the Resident Evil and Grand Theft Auto series have found inspiration in the 1991 classic.
The end of the franchise?
That widespread set of cultural influences is testament to how it would be a monumental task for further Terminator sequels to follow in Judgment Day‘s footsteps. The task proved too much for 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and 2009’s Terminator Salvation, while the Sick Chirpse preview of the trailer for 2015’s Terminator Genisys predicted the film would be terrible – that was a good prediction. Those sequels failed so spectacularly that Dark Fate ignored their stories and simply picked up in the world left behind by Terminator 2.
Perhaps the Terminator franchise should have looked to The Godfather trilogy as a cautionary tale: when you’ve got a ground-breaking first film and an arguably superior sequel, it’s probably best to call it a day rather than plow ahead with more installments. While Dark Fate showed that there are still interesting stories to tell in Cameron’s world, fans are more likely to turn to Terminator 2 if they want a rollicking sci-fi ride. This makes Dark Fate and the other sequels superfluous.
That Davis, a leading cast member of Dark Fate, spoke so strongly against the idea of future sequels means that it is likely that, this time, Schwarzenegger’s character won’t be back.